Russell Tayler – In praise of the dream that was Rome

Two big issues have resurfaced recently: gay marriage and the EU. There’s no obvious connection between the two, but given the similar levels of attention afforded them by MPs and the media, you’d think they were of equal significance. They’re not.

I’m not sure where I stand on gay marriage, or if I care about it at all. On the one hand, it feels like another subversion of tradition by the progressive wrecking crew. On the other, if the gays are keen to play mister and, um, mister, instead of re-enacting scenes from the last days of Rome, it has to be a step in the right direction. When liberal mascots start demanding access to bourgeois conventions, score one for conservatism.

Whatever its merits, gay marriage still represents a liberal axe-swing against the pillars of society, and it won’t be their last. Each overturned tradition sets a dangerous new precedent and undermines the arguments against the next set of demands. As Mark Steyn observes: “As recently as 2000, when Vermont became the first state to legalize same-sex civil unions, that was the enlightened, progressive position. A mere 13 years later, to support civil unions is to be a homophobe and a hater. Where will received wisdom be in another 13 years?”

I’ve not doubt that liberals support gay marriage in part because they instinctively oppose what they see as right-wing prejudice. But so what? If they’re stupid enough to believe that conservatism is about bigotry, rather than best practice, more fool them. We might even be able to put their abhorrence of ‘social exclusion’ to good use elsewhere. Convince them that eBay is racist and maybe they’ll start rooting for free markets.

Whatever people’s stance on gay marriage, many are bewildered and angry that it has been such a constant talking point among politicians. You expect left-wing commentators to keep returning to it, because it’s a double-underlined item on their to-do list – the one that ends with ‘achieve total societal breakdown’. But with many other, more critical, matters to attend to, why are our MPs expending so much energy on a fringe concern?

Gay marriage advocates point out that the government is perfectly capable of multi-tasking, and that such a straightforward issue needn’t get in the way of more pressing matters. True enough, but that’s not really the point. The shame of it is that debates of much greater importance are not being had, while something of limited interest to most people is never out of the news. What are we going to do about the economy, welfare, immigration and the erosion of our liberties? These are the questions on which the future of our nation hinge, but they’re rarely asked, let alone answered – at least not by the people who matter. Our politicians seem more interested in currying favour with minority groups and their liberal guardians than confronting the mess we’re in. Talk about fiddling while Rome burns.

That’s two mentions of Rome now, which seems quite apt given that these days have an end of empire feel to them. State profligacy, punitive taxes, high unemployment, moral decadence – the similarities between 3rd Century Rome and 21st Century Britain are uncanny. The Romans didn’t allow same-sex marriage, but I hear their gay scene was more vibrant than our own.

Amid the torpor and turpitude, however, something quite interesting is happening: we are having a debate on the European Union. It’s unclear whether this is a response to the UKIP threat or to the Eurozone crisis, but it’s encouraging to discover that gay marriage is not the only recurring item on the agenda.

One of the oft-heard arguments against a referendum on EU membership is that there’s no public appetite for one, there being far more important matters to attend to. This claim is based on surveys that asked people to list their priorities for government – which seems a pretty lousy way of gauging demand for political action. While it may be true that people are more anxious about the economy or welfare reform than the EU, this doesn’t mean they are happy to defer a referendum until all our other social ills have been resolved. If a vote on gay marriage can’t wait until we have cleaned the slate, why should an EU referendum?

To grasp the value of the EU to its supporters, it’s necessary to understand the liberal, which is to say statist, mindset. Liberals don’t want a society that empowers the masses and rewards the corporate philistines who serve their interests. They want one that recognises their sense of superiority, listens to their self-righteous opinions, and lets them play on-high saviours to the needy – a group that would include all of us, if they had their way. Since free societies tend towards the former model, liberals consider them unjust, and present the ‘victims’ of these societies as proof of their injustice, as proof of their own compassion, and as proof of what happens when people put their selfish desire for autonomy ahead of the liberal right to rule.

Liberals are receptive to big government because the less say individuals have in their lives, the less susceptible liberals are to their judgment and the greater the likelihood of liberals wielding unaccountable power. The EU, as the quintessence of big government, makes liberals woozy with delight. If only the world were one big Eutopia, everyone could live out the stuff of liberal fantasy: a pampered childhood, a few fun-filled years at university, an overpaid ‘job’ telling people how to live or doing something vaguely creative, followed by retirement at fifty-five on an gold-plated pension. It doesn’t occur to them that a society of intellectual dreamers, make-work wasters and welfare dependants is unsustainable, or that someone somewhere has to do the work that needs doing – if only to finance their entitlements.

The EU is not only wrong because it’s an illiberal, money-sucking leviathan. It’s wrong because it represents a rotten idea: subservience to a political and cultural elite, whose primary concern is its own empowerment and self-flattery. This is the kind of idea that poisons societies and makes people forget what it means to live a life of dignity and purpose. It’s the demon seed that has flowered into the smug, smothering ideology that is guiding the West towards destruction.

Britain’s departure from the EU could engender broad-based support for the idea that we should live as self-reliant citizens, rather than the enervated wards of a liberal state. Even a healthy discussion on the issue might open people’s eyes to the possibility of a brighter future. It doesn’t matter whether the current debate has been sparked by Tory fears of UKIP or by a genuine desire to throw off the shackles of big government. All that counts is that we’re moving in the right direction. All roads lead to Rome.

5 comments on “Russell Tayler – In praise of the dream that was Rome

  1. whbancroft
    May 23, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    Russell Taylor is veritable super star! Another beautiful piece… keep ’em coming please.

  2. John B
    May 23, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Praise for this short essay would be a stream of superlatives. So, just one : marvellous. Assume the rest.

  3. jdseanjd
    May 24, 2013 at 11:28 pm #

    Russell hi.
    I do wish this excellent blog got more followers.
    Still, soldier on.

    The less than obvious connection between gay marriage & the EU is UN Agenda 21, which calls for a huge reduction of world population, which homosexuality & gay marriage obviously aids, & one world govt, for which the EU is seen as the forerunner.

    Google agenda 21 for dummies, & this site:

    • tayles100
      May 25, 2013 at 8:07 am #

      Thank you for the kind words. At the rate Europe is breeding, having ‘too many’ people will soon cease to be a problem. Or too many of the right people, at least. We seem to be dealing with our own reluctance to breed by importing paupers into societies that don’t require them to integrate or even support themselves. It’s unlikely to end well.


  1. Steynian 468nth | Free Canuckistan! - May 25, 2013

    […] ~ ITEM: Thatcher on Thursday : As a Christian, I struggle with the idea of homosexuality – but I oppose homophobia; and “In praise of the dream that was Rome“ […]

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